Did you ever celebrate Cinco de Mayo growing up? Although I am nearly half German and half Swedish, I had the privilege of celebrating this fun holiday many times in my Spanish classes throughout high school and college. Although I didn’t fully understand some of the cultural traditions surrounding holidays, such as Dia de los Muertos, I was able to embrace the celebration of Mexican culture on May 5.

Horchata: Origins

Horchata is also known as oderxata de Zufa. It’s a creamy drink that originated in Valencia, Spain. Popular in Europe, Central America, and South America, as well as the US. The ingredients, taste, and name vary from region to region.

Horchata, which is usually made with rice, vanilla, and cinnamon, is most commonly found in Mexico and Guatemala. In other parts of the world, it is made with morro, tiger nuts, and almonds. It can also be made with barley or sesame seeds. This version is similar to the Mexican and Guatemalan versions, but it’s plant-based and sweetened with dates in place of sugar.

Horchata can be incredibly sweet and is usually made with refined sugar and sweetened condensed dairy. Health nuts can rejoice because they can still enjoy this refreshing summer drink without slipping into a sugar-induced coma.

In true minimalist fashion, this horchata can be made with just five ingredients. It takes less than 20 minutes, excluding the time to soak the rice. The result is worth it. It’s a creamy, 100% vegan horchata with hints of vanilla and cinnamon—perfect for a hot summer day.

I really enjoyed the first glass of horchata over ice, but I plan to make a horchata-based cocktail with the remainder. Be on the lookout for boozy horchata recipes! In the meantime, Happy Cinco de Mayo!


  • Long grain White Rice, 3/4 cup
  • 6 cups of water (divided into two)
  • You can also use coconut milk or light almond milk.
  • Half to 3/4 cup pitted dates, Medjools, or delete Noors (depending on sweetness desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon stick whole


  • Rice should be soaked in 2 cups of very hot water (not boiling) for two hours. (Amounts, as written on the original recipe // 1/3 of total water, is needed if changing batch size). You should be able to snap a piece of rice in half easily with your fingernail. Drain the rice and add it to a Blender.
  • Cover with a towel and top with the lid. Add the dates, cinnamon stick and vanilla. Blend for approximately 1 minute until the date specks have become very small and the mixture appears well-combined. The mixture doesn’t need to be completely pulverized.
  • To test the sweetness, scoop out a small amount with a teaspoon. Add more dates if it isn’t sweet enough (or honey if you are not vegan).
  • Pour the mixture into two batches over a bowl, pitcher, or towel covered with cheesecloth. You can also use a nut-milk bag, a very thin towel, or even a pair of clean pantyhose or a tee shirt (a tip that I learned from “My New Roots”). My bowl was secured with a rubber band, but it was not necessary.
  • Squeeze the cloth to extract every last drop of pulp. The amount of effort required will depend on the size of your pulp. Rinse the cloth and set it aside to be washed.
  • Then, add almond milk (optional), stir, and pour into mason jars. Serve chilled over ice. Keeps in the refrigerator for several days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *